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District, teachers far apart

A disagreement about an agreement is plaguing progress in contract negotiations for 296 Lake Tahoe Unified School District teachers who have been working without a contract since July 1998.

The teachers, who belong to the South Tahoe Educators’ Association, a local affiliate of the California Teachers’ Association Union, believe an agreement with the school district about an across-the-board teachers’ salary increase was met this fall during negotiation sessions.

However, Superintendent Rich Alexander said no such agreement was reached.



“People have different perceptions of the same events,” he said. “There’s a negotiation process and our intention is to follow that process.”

Alexander said that the district is ready to sit down with the teachers to workout an agreement.




But Mike Patterson, president of the Educator’s Association, said that’s not possible at this stage of bargaining.

“They tell us things and then they change their minds – that’s against the law,” he said. “They aren’t trustworthy. How can we sit down at the bargaining table with people who have been engaged in regressive bargaining.”

According to Patterson, a portion of the agreement to advance the teachers’ salary rates to the top third of 20 other comparable school districts was ratified in last year’s teachers contracts. And a timeline of three years for the increase was agreed upon by both sides in January.

In response to the disagreement, more than 75 teachers wearing black T-shirts attended the board meeting Tuesday in the South Tahoe High School library.

“The shirts can mean different things to different teachers,” Patterson said. “But it’s a way to get the message out that it’s time for a change – that’s what it says on the shirt.”

According to Steve Hall, a speech therapist at the LTUSD, the teachers have been wearing the shirts to work every Friday, at least until a contract is reached.

Teacher Sue Channel spoke to the school board during public comment session.

“The negotiations process that we followed this year didn’t work,” she said. “Interest based bargaining only works … when what is agreed to at the table has some legitimacy.”

The Educator’s Association has filed paperwork with the California Teachers’ Association to call in a state-appointed mediator to resume negotiations. According to Public Employees Relations Board, they have not received the paperwork. Therefore, no date has been set for the mediator.

“We’re just waiting to see who the mediator will be,” Patterson said.


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